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New York Giants give speedy WR Derrick Dillon an opportunity

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Question is, can he turn that speed into real production?

Auburn v LSU
Derrik Dillon
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Speed always gets a chance in the NFL, and that is exactly what the New York Giants are giving Derrick Dillon. Let’s take a closer look at the undrafted wide receiver out of LSU.

The basics

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 185
Age: 24
Position: wide receiver
Experience: Rookie
Contract: Year 1 of three-year, $2.3 million contract | Guaranteed: $40,000 | RFA: 2023

How he got here

Dillon had a relatively undistinguished career at LSU, catching 51 passes in 31 games over four seasons for 634 yards (12.4 yards per catch) and 4 touchdowns. He was, though, playing for LSU. And he had some explosive plays. Plus, during the virtual LSU Pro Day he did this.

So, yeah, 4.29 in the 40 will get you noticed by the NFL and will land you an opportunity somewhere.

Scouting report

— via Emory Hunt’s 2020 Football Gameplan Draft Guide:

Strengths:

  • Has good, short-area quickness.
  • Was a core special teamer earlier in his career at LSU.
  • Good effort player. Which shows up in the blocking department.

Areas of Improvement:

  • Not as polished of a route runner
  • Plays small; has to get stronger to fight through some of the contact within a route.
  • Played a lot at LSU, but didn’t ‘play’ a lot. So, it could be a sign of an issue, or, a sign of upside.

Zachary Junda of SB Nation’s LSU website, And The Valley Shook, had this to say about Dillon:

“Dillon didn’t make much of an impact while at LSU but the few plays he did make were game changers. He sparked LSU’s comeback win at Auburn in 2018 with a 71-yard touchdown and put LSU on top in Fiesta Bowl against UCF. Both were plays where he ran crossing or intermediate post routes and he just won the foot race to the end zone.

“He probably should have had a bigger season in 2019 with the more wide open offense LSU installed and Joe Burrow at the helm, but he got buried on the depth chart. Sure, some of that’s owed to who he was playing with: Ja’Marr Chase is the best receiver in school history; Justin Jefferson caught 111 passes and was a first round pick; and Terrace Marshall Jr caught 13 touchdowns and he was only the third option. Plus when you add in Thaddeus Moss, who had the best receiving season for an LSU tight end, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire catching 55 passes out of the backfield there just weren’t enough targets to go around even for the best offense in college football history.

“I think he could be a carbon copy of Corey Coleman, the two are basically the exact same height and weight. Dillon, like Coleman, has that slight build but he’s got great acceleration. He ran a 4.45 at some camp in high school and that’s the most recent number I can find. He wasn’t invited to the combine and obviously there wasn’t a Pro Day.

“I also think he could be like another former Tiger, Atlanta’s Russell Gage. Gage earned his spot on the Falcons as a special teams standout, and eventually became the Falcons’ No. 3 receiver. Dillon will have to do the same as a gunner if he wants to make the Giants roster.”

2020 outlook

Dillon joins a plethora of young receivers vying for backup spots in the 53-man roster. Alex Bachman, David Sills, and Da’Mari Scott all return from 2019. Dillon is joined by fellow undrafted free agents Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack. Corey Coleman is also returning from injury.

Dillon’s speed gives him a chance. Something to remember, though, is that while he is a rookie Dillon is no kid. In the NFL, he is an ancient rookie as he will turn 25 in October. For comparison, Saquon Barkley turned 23 in February and is entering his third season. His age 25 season will be his fifth year in the NFL. Daniel Jones also just turned 23.

For Dillon, more so than the 22-year-old Mack or 23-year-old Victor, there is probably little margin for error. He’s going to make it or he’s not going to make it. He isn’t really going to be a developmental player. Jerry Reese used to say that by age 25 players were often already on their way out of the league. If they haven’t established by that age that they really belong their window of opportunity could close.

By that standard, Dillon’s window of opportunity might not be a huge one.